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Burning diarrhea is not usually a symptom of a serious health condition, though it can cause severe discomfort. Most bouts of diarrhea will resolve within a few hours or days, either without treatment or with the help of basic home remedies.
If a person experiences burning diarrhea that lasts for longer than 2 or 3 days or is extremely painful or bloody, they should seek medical attention.
This article defines burning diarrhea and explains its causes, as well as how to manage it.
Diarrhea occurs when the intestines do not absorb enough fluid from the body’s waste. This means that stools will contain the surplus fluids and a person may experience loose, fluid filled stools — with or without rectal pain — three or more times every day.
Sometimes, especially in intense or chronic cases, diarrhea can cause a painful, burning sensation in the rectum and anus.
There are several reasons that a person may experience burning diarrhea.
The following sections will discuss these potential causes in more detail.
Stomach acids, digestive enzymes, and bile
When food enters the stomach, acids and digestive enzymes attach themselves to it and begin breaking it down.
The digestive system adds bile to food when it passes through the small intestine. By the time food passes through, these acids and enzymes should no longer be acidic.
Diarrhea speeds up the digestion process, so foods often do not break down fully. This means that stomach acids, digestive enzymes, and bile may still be present in diarrhea. These can damage the tissues and cause a burning sensation in the rectum during or after a bowel movement.
Foods may not entirely break down when they leave the body. For this reason, large, rough foods and those with edible seeds, pods, or shells may rub, cut, or cause small tears in the delicate tissues of the rectum.
Occasionally, simply wiping harder or more often after passing a stool is enough to increase irritation and contribute to burning diarrhea.
Some spices contain chemical compounds that cause a warm, burning sensation upon contact with bodily tissues.
Capsaicin, the main active ingredient in most spicy foods, also features in over-the-counter (OTC) numbing products.
Capsaicin can irritate digestive tissues, triggering diarrhea. As diarrhea speeds up the digestive processes, the capsaicin from spicy foods may also leave the body before breaking down, causing a burning sensation as stools pass.
Some other common causes of burning diarrhea include:
- excess alcohol consumption
- artificial sweeteners
- fructose, a naturally occurring sugar present in fruits
- laxative abuse
There are a number of health conditions that can increase the risk of burning diarrhea.
The following sections will discuss these in more detail.
Irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal conditions
According to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, people with IBS with diarrhea experience an average of 200 episodes of gas and diarrhea per year.
Other gastrointestinal conditions that could cause chronic diarrhea include:
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lower rectum or around the anus.
Episodes of diarrhea can increase irritation and swelling of hemorrhoids, which can then cause a burning, painful sensation.
Diarrhea is a known side effect of metformin, which is a medication that people use for managing type 2 diabetes.
According to a 2016 review, around 10% of people who take metformin experience side effects in the gastrointestinal system. Diarrhea is among these adverse effects.
Food allergies or intolerances
When the small intestine senses a compound or substance that it is allergic to, it sparks an exaggerated immune response.
One response is diarrhea. The immune system triggers the digestive system to remove the irritant as quickly as possible.
Nearly all types of food poisoning cause diarrhea.
Cases of food poisoning may last for several days, weeks, or even months. Extended bouts of food poisoning can increase the chances of irritation from more frequent wiping.
Most types of bacterial and parasitic infections require medical treatment.
Antibiotics may cause diarrhea by disturbing the natural balance of microbes in the gut. This might allow bacterial overgrowth or infection by bacteria that produce toxins.
Cases of antibiotic-associated diarrhea may require medical treatment.
Surgery or medical therapies
Diarrhea that occurs due to cancer therapy can last for up to 3 weeks after the end of treatment.
Surgeries involving the gastrointestinal system may also cause diarrhea as an adverse effect.
For bothersome, intense, or chronic cases of burning diarrhea, several at-home remedies may help a person reduce the symptoms without dramatically interfering with immunity.
Diarrhea usually causes fluid loss, so increasing fluid intake can help prevent dehydration.
It may be helpful to drink more water during periods of diarrhea, but it is also important to replace salt and sugars with alternatives, such as saltines and diluted juice.
One alternative is an oral rehydration solution that contains electrolytes. These products can help a person rehydrate after severe diarrhea.
Eating probiotic yogurt may also help by restoring the natural balance of gastrointestinal flora, or microbes, after diarrhea.
A person with burning diarrhea should also:
- Avoid spicy foods and any food known allergens.
- Be as gentle as possible when wiping.
- Wash the area with lukewarm water and unscented baby wipes.
- Sit in a warm bath with Epsom salts.
- Avoid dehydrating foods and substances, such as caffeine and alcohol.
- Avoid tobacco.
- Apply a water repellent cream or ointment to the affected area.
- Avoid foods high in sugar or fat.
- Use OTC hemorrhoid creams.
- Use OTC pain medication.
- Take probiotic supplements.
Most cases of burning diarrhea will resolve without treatment after a day or two. However, longer or more intense episodes of diarrhea can sometimes be a symptom of a more significant health condition.
Some reasons to seek medical attention for burning diarrhea include:
- diarrhea that does not resolve without treatment within 2 days
- extremely painful diarrhea
- blood in the stool
- black stool
- diarrhea due to an antibiotic or new medication
- diarrhea that smells unusual
- fever, chills, or night sweats
- a rash
- severe dehydration, including extreme thirst, exhaustion, lightheadedness, and dark colored urine
- significant weight loss and a lack of appetite
- recent travel
SHOP FOR DIARRHEA REMEDIES
Some of these home remedies are available for purchase online.